Two gunmen have killed a US citizen in southwestern Yemen in an attack that was claimed by an armed group associated with al-Qaeda.
The assailants, who were riding a motorbike, shot the man in his car while he was driving in Taiz, then fled the scene, a Yemeni official told the AFP news agency.
The man was believed to have been a teacher working at the International Training and Development Centre in the southern city. The US state department confirmed that a US citizen had been killed but did not give any other details.
Ansar al-Sharia, an armed group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message circulated among local media. The group said the man had been a Christian missionary and that they attacked him to respond to “a Western campaign to preach Christianity among Muslims”.
Witnesses said that the attackers were dressed in the uniform of the elite Republican Guard, which is led by the son of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Jihadi organization’s franchise in Yemen, is active in the south and east but not in Taiz, which was a major centre for the opposition movement that eventually forced former president Saleh to step down.
Muslim Resistance fighters have exploited the weakening central government in Sanaa to strengthen their presence in parts of the country that are not under tight government control.
The attack comes two days after suspected al-Qaeda gunmen abducted a Swiss woman, also a teacher at a language school, in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and moved her to the restive Shabwa province further east.